At 75, Bert 'Moonface' Newton still has it

Lana Wilson / July 26, 2013 04:36 PM

This week, a remarkable television legend turned 75 and celebrated an impressive milestone – 60 years in the Australian entertainment industry.

Bert _theaus

Photo: The Australian

That remarkable legend is Who’s Who in Australia entrant Albert Watson Newton – better known to millions of Aussies as Bert Newton.

Since his television debut in 1957 with HSV7 – the very first Seven Network – Newton has been a loveable fixture on televisions across the nation. With hosting credits and a show reel to make any aspiring entertainer envious, Newton is without a doubt, an Australian icon.

Aged just fifteen years old, young Newton hosted a children’s radio program between 1950 and 1957, but it wasn’t until his sister, Alice, informed him that “the future is television” that he considered moving between the two mediums.

Soon, he teamed up with fellow entertainer extraordinaire, the late Graham Kennedy on In Melbourne Tonight in 1959 on the then Nine Network, GTV9. It was an entertainment match made in heaven and one that many Australians fondly remember – for the households who were fortunate enough to have a television in their living room in the early 1960's, watching Newton and Kennedy was a family affair.

After three decades working in television and radio, Newton jumped ship to the Ten Network where he would reign the mid mornings TV timeslot, hosting Good Morning Australia in 1992, right up until 2005.

At this point in time, Newton’s reputation as an interviewer and entertainer had become widespread – not just in Australia but also internationally, with Canadian singer k.d lang allegedly telling her publicist and management “I wanna do the guy with the big head,”.  

More recently, Newton has undergone several health challenges, undergoing a quadruple bypass with 50/50 odds in 2012.

In the comical style Newton is most known, he reflects on his luck, recalling the time following the risky procedure a Melbourne priest came to his bedside to wish him well in recovery, with a full prayer exercised, only to have wife Patti walk in unexpectantly.

“It was Patti rather than me who needed medical attention,” he said.

“She thought I’d made a quick exit!”

Despite a long, fulfilling career, at 75-years-old, Newton hasn’t slowed down, and he’s due to add to his long list of theatre credits, playing Vince Fontaine in the upcoming musical Grease.

But as a veteran, Newton doesn’t take his success for granted, explaining much of his career comes down to luck.

“A bit of luck, a fair bit of talent and someone with power who believes in you,” he explained.

“When those three things are aligned, you know you’re okay.”

To celebrate Newton’s 60 years in the industry, the Nine Network will air a special presentation on Saturday evening at 6:30PM (AEST), featuring archived footage and heartfelt tributes from a range of entertainment identities, including wife Patti. 

Who’s Who in Australia wishes Bert Newton a very happy 75th birthday.

Sources: Who’s Who, The Age Green Guide, Herald Sun

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